Can razor sharp teeth cut webs?
The superhuman mob enforcer known as Tombstone has made life tough for Spider-Man for decades. While a recurring player in the Spider-Man comics for the past 30 years, Tombstone isn’t necessarily the most well-known member of Spidey’s rogues gallery. But he is one of the scarier villains Peter Parker has faced.
Here’s everything you need to know about the ruthless villain known as Tombstone.
Tombstone Explained: The Basics
With all the colorful characters vying for control of New York’s criminal underworld in the Marvel Universe, it takes a special breed of gangster to stay competitive. That’s never been an issue for Lonnie Lincoln. A rough upbringing molded him into one of the most feared killers in the city, one who more than justifies the nickname “Tombstone.” Even the most powerful crime lords in New York like Kingpin and The Hood recognize Tombstone’s talent for getting the job done and sending his enemies cowering into the night. After all, it takes a special breed of fighter to go up against the Amazing Spider-Man and walk away unscathed.
Tombstone’s Powers and Abilities
Originally, Tombstone had no superhuman abilities to speak of. His mean temperament comes from the fact that he was the only albino African American growing up in his Harlem neighborhood. A childhood of bullying and abuse molded him into a hardened street fighter, one who’s never afraid to take a life when the opportunity arises. Tombstone added to his personal mystique by filing his teeth and fingernails into razor-sharp points and enhancing his burly frame with a strict bodybuilding regimen.
Eventually, however, Tombstone did gain powers after being exposed to an experimental gas. He now has enhanced strength, speed and durability, putting him on equal footing with heroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil.
Tombstone: Origin and Background
Tombstone was one of several major new additions to Spider-Man’s rogues gallery in the late ’80s, alongside the likes of Venom and one of the many new incarnations of Hobgoblin. With so many monthly Spider-Man comics on the stands, Marvel creators needed all the fresh blood they could find.
Tombstone was created by writer Gerry Conway and artist Alex Saviuk and debuted in 1988’s Web of Spider-Man #36. Early issues established Lonnie Lincoln’s tragic backstory and his connection to Daily Bugle editor Robbie Robertson. Readers learned that Robbie once witnessed Tombstone beating a source to death. Robertson kept that incident a secret for several decades, fearing for his own life. This made Tombstone somewhat unique among Spider-Man villains in that his feud wasn’t with Spidey himself so much as one of his close allies.
That feud continued until the day Robertson shot his old nemesis and left him to die in a test chamber inside an Oscorp facility. Instead, exposure to an experimental gas granted Tombstone super-powers, making him suddenly grateful to his old enemy. That’s one way to patch up a relationship.
Ever since then, Tombstone has remained a major thorn in the side of heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil and even Deadpool. He also came into conflict with police captain Yuri Watanabe, who masquerades as a vigilante known as The Wraith. Watanabe made it her mission to bring down Tombstone and a corrupt judge who helped him stay out of prison.
Tombstone also played a major role in a 2013 series called The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. There it was revealed that the new Beetle, a woman named Janice Lincoln, is actually Tombstone’s daughter. Apparently super-crime runs in the family.
Tombstone: Beyond the Comics
Tombstone has appeared in two Spider-Man animated series so far. He made his animated debut in 1994’s Spider-Man (voiced by Dorian Harewood), where the focus of his story was on Lincoln’s rivalry with Robbie Robertson. This version blamed Robertson for causing the accident that gave him his powers.
Tombstone later returned in 2008’s The Spectacular Spider-Man (voiced first by Keith David and then by Kevin Michael Richardson). Early on, Tombstone was depicted as a powerful crime lord who masquerades as a kindly philanthropist. But eventually he was brought down during a gang war with Doctor Octopus and Silvermane and had his criminal empire taken over by Norman Osborn.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.